Continuing his three-part series on “Unleash the Spirit,” Knute Larson preached his sermon “Unleash the Spirit of Love!” from John 13:31–35.

Knute was the keynote speaker at the 2021 GARBC Conference in Schaumburg, Illinois. As he had done in his first message, “Unleash the Spirit of Help,” Knute encouraged believers to emphasize Christ above the Holy Spirit and reminded them that they live in combination with Christ. He illustrated that union by clasping his hands several times during the message. He also reminded believers that “you decide, I decided if we’re going to unleash” the Spirit of love.

John 13 opens with Jesus washing His disciples feet, a humble act for what Knute referred to as “a momentous time” and an active answer to the disciples’ earlier question about who would be the greatest in the coming kingdom. The answer: the one who serves.

The time was momentous not only because Jesus was nearing the cross, His resurrection, and His ascension, but because He was going to give the disciples a new commandment:
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another.” What was new about the commandment to love? It was new because Jesus was going to send the Holy Spirit, and the fruit of the Spirit is love. It was new because Jesus said, “As I have loved you, . . . you also love one another.” The command is to love like Jesus loves.

Knute used a candle to illustrate love: the base or holder is the covenant a person has with Christ or a spouse or fellow church members. The candle itself is love—not emotional love, but love in action. Active love, like Christ’s agape love, gives and forgives one step at a time. The candle’s (love’s) flame is emotion or passion. The flame flickers or burns brightly based on the strength of love in action.

Jesus also told the disciples that people would know they were His disciples by their love. Knute pointed out that unbelievers will judge a church by its members’ love, not by their doctrinal statement. “Jesus wants to be known by the love of His people,” Knute said.

He also reminded believers of the four commands in Scripture concerning the Holy Spirit, and Knute explained how those commands are fulfilled when Christians unleash the Spirit of love:

  • They do not quench the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19); rather, they desire the Spirit and ask for His help to love.
  • They also do not grieve the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30) but instead confess their sin immediately to Him and to the one(s) to whom they were unloving.
  • They are filled with, or open to, the Spirit; as a result they open their hearts to love others—even the difficult, even those they disagree with.
  • They walk in the Spirit—one step at a time.

Knute closed the message, saying, “When you live for yourself, or pastor for yourself, or do anything for yourself, what does it get you? But when you love, you abide in Christ; you live for Him; you fall and get up; you confess; you open every person in your life to your love. And you keep going.”